SPAC Announces 2023 Classical Season

  • NEW YORK CITY BALLET residency highlighted by SPAC Premieres by KYLE ABRAHAM (music by JAMES BLAKE), JUSTIN PECK (music by AARON COPLAND), CHRISTOPHER WHEELDON (Music by ARVO PÄRT), and GIANNA REISEN (music by SOLANGE KNOWLES), a program featuring three story ballets SWAN LAKE, FANCY FREE and FIREBIRD, and an inside look at the season with the return of “NYCB On and Off Stage”
  • THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA residency features the return of Music Director YANNICK NÉZET-SÉGUIN and soloists YO-YO MA and GIL SHAHAM
  • Diverse roster of artists makes their SPAC debuts in 2023 including Emmy-, Grammy-, and Tony Award-winning icon AUDRA MCDONALD, global “little orchestra” PINK MARTINI, and pianists ISATA KANNEH-MASON and BRUCE LIU
  • 2023 festival theme of EARTH highlighted by Earth: An HD Odyssey, featuring ravishing images of the planet set to music by John Luther Adams and Richard Strauss on a large LED screen, in addition to the SPAC premiere of John Luther Adams’ Vespers of the Blessed Earth
  • Popular Film Nights Return with HARRY POTTER and the GOBLET OF FIRE™ in Concert and JURASSIC PARK in Concert

SARATOGA SPRINGS – The Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) announces the return of its resident companies — New York City Ballet and The Philadelphia Orchestra — to their summer home in Saratoga for a celebratory season that will feature masterworks from the classical cannon, alongside SPAC premieres and debuts.

NEW YORK CITY BALLET (NYCB) returns with the full company from July 18 – 22, with its roster of more than 90 dancers under the direction of Artistic Director Jonathan Stafford and Associate Artistic Director Wendy Whelan, accompanied by the New York City Ballet Orchestra, led by Music Director Andrew Litton. The Company will present four programs including “NYCB On and Off Stage,” hosted by NYCB dancers for a unique “behind the curtain” experience featuring excerpts from the week’s ballets. Highlighting the season are contemporary new works including Play Time by Gianna Reisen set to music by Solange KnowlesLove Letter (on shuffle) by Kyle Abraham, featuring the music of James Blake; and Liturgy by Christopher Wheeldon with music by Arvo Pärt, in addition to two works by Justin Peck including the SPAC premiere of his first full-evening ballet, Copland Dance Episodes, set to four of Aaron Copland’s most acclaimed musical scores:  Appalachian Spring, Billy the Kid, Fanfare for the Common Man, and Rodeo, as well asScherzo Fantastique set to music by Igor Stravinsky, which had its World Premiere at SPAC in 2016. Also featured is a program dedicated to three story ballets including  Balanchine’s Swan Lake, Robbins’ Fancy Free and Firebird by both choreographers.

“Kicking off our summer season is ‘NYCB On and Off Stage,’ which has become an important part of our efforts to bring new people to experience ballet in an inviting, accessible way. New for this year, the celebratory evening will culminate in a ‘dance party’ in the Hall of Springs,” said Elizabeth Sobol, president and CEO of Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “Throughout our packed week of performances, audiences can look forward to an exhilarating mix of beloved traditional ballets by Balanchine and Robbins, and new contemporary works by the next generation of choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Justin Peck and Gianna Reisen, alongside exciting composers like Solange Knowles and James Blake. The residency will also feature Justin Peck’s first evening-length ballet.”   

Photo: Dave Bigler

THE PHILADELPHIA ORCHESTRA’s three-week residency (August 2 – August 19) will feature Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin (AUG 11–12) leading two programs including a Rachmaninoff 150th birthday celebration, and appearances by cellist Yo-Yo Ma (AUG 17) and violinist Gil Shaham (AUG 16), returning for the first time in a decade in a special SPAC premiere leading Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. Making their 2023 SPAC debuts is a diverse roster of artists including Emmy-, Grammy-, and Tony Award-winning icon Audra McDonald (AUG 10) for a Broadway program, and global “little orchestra” Pink Martini, featuring China Forbes (AUG 4), in addition to pianists Isata Kanneh-Mason (AUG 3) and Bruce Liu (AUG 11). The 2023 season also includes a diverse line-up of conductors making their SPAC debuts, including Fabio Luisi (AUG 2-3) for the opening two nights including the popular Festive Fireworks program, Enrico Lopez-Yañez (AUG 4) to lead Pink Martini alongside the Orchestra, Roderick Cox (AUG 9) in a performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony,and Xian Zhang (AUG 17) for Yo-Yo Ma Plays Dvořák.

SPAC also revealed its 2023 festival theme of EARTH would be integrated throughout the Orchestra’s residency, highlighted by Earth: An HD Odyssey (AUG 18), featuring ravishing images of the planet on a large LED screen accompanied by Richard Strauss’ epic tone poem Also Sprach Zarathustra featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey and John ­Adams’ exhilarating Short Ride in a Fast Machine. Continuing the theme, Yannick Nézet-Séguin will lead the Orchestra in the SPAC premiere of Pulitzer-Prize winning composer John Luther Adams’ Vespers of the Blessed Earth, alongside Stravinsky’s famed The Rite of Spring (AUG 12).  

The popular film nights will also return to delight audiences of all ages as the Orchestra accompanies, live to picture, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert (AUG 5) and Jurassic Park in Concert (AUG 19), celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film.                                                                                            

Photo: Francesco D’Amico

“The Orchestra’s residency will carry our 2023 ‘EARTH’ theme — which will kick-off on Earth Day on April 22 — with iconic works and premieres that honor the planet and its awe-inspiring beauty, an homage to SPAC’s exquisite location in the natural world,” said Sobol.

Tickets will be available beginning on February 14 at 10 a.m. for members (tiered by level) and on February 23 at 10 a.m. for the general public. Visit for details.


Hosts: Sterling Hyltin and Adrian Danchig-Waring NYCB On and Off Stage New York City Ballet Photo: ©Paul Kolnik

NYCB On and Off Stage


NYCB dancers host a unique “behind the curtain” experience featuring excerpts from the week’s ballets. A compelling evening for newcomers and aficionados alike. Immediately following the program is a celebratory “dance party” in the Hall of Springs.

SPAC Premieres



Brittany Pollack and Taylor Stanley – Scherzo Fantastique (World Premiere) Choreography by: Justin Peck, New York City Ballet Photo: Paul Kolnik

Scherzo Fantastique                                       (Stravinsky/Peck)

Emma Von Enck and David Gabriel in Play TIme (World Premiere), Choreography by Gianna Reisen, Music by Solange Knowles (commissioned by New York City Ballet), Costumes by Alejandro Gómez Palomo, Lighting by Mark Stanley. New York City Ballet, Fall Fashion Gala, 10th Anniversary, Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Play Time*                                                          (Knowles/Reisen)

Sara Adams and Jared Angle in Liturgy Dancer’s Choice New York City Ballet Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon –Photo: ©Paul Kolnik 2011

Liturgy*                                                               (Pärt/Wheeldon)

Foreground: Tiler Peck and Sebastian Villarini-Velez in Love Letter (on shuffle) (World Premiere), choreography by Kyle Abraham, Costumes by Giles Deacon, Music by James Blake, Lighting by Dan Scully. New York City Ballet, Fall Fashion Gala, 10th Anniversary, Wednesday, September 28, 2022. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Love Letter (on shuffle)*                                 (Blake/Abraham)

Peck & Copland



Taylor Stanley, foreground in yellow top, and company in Copland Dance Episodes, A Ballet By Justin Peck (World Premiere), New York City Ballet, Thursday, January 26, 2023, 7:30pm. Music by Aaron Copland, Choreography by Justin Peck, Scenery by Jeffrey Gibson, Scenery Supervised by Mark Stanley, Costumes by Ellen Warren, Costumes supervised by Marc Happel, Lighting by Brandon Stirling Baker. David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Copland Dance Episodes*                             (Copland/Peck)

Swan Lake, Fancy Free & Firebird

FRIDAY, JULY 21 @ 7:30PM


Sara Mearns, Swan Lake – SPAC New York City Ballet Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust Credit Photo: Paul Kolnik

Swan Lake                                    (Tschaikovsky/Balanchine)

Daniel Ulbricht – Fancy Free – Choreography by Jerome Robbins – New York City Ballet. Photo: Paul Kolnik

Fancy Free                                                           (Bernstein/Robbins)

Emilie Gerrity and Andrew Veyette, center in “Firebird”, Choreography © The George Balanchine Trust. New York City Ballet, Stravinsky and Balanchine Program. Friday, January 24, 2020, 8pm. David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center. Credit Photo: Erin Baiano

Firebird                                      (Stravinsky/Balanchine & Robbins)

*indicates SPAC premiere



WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 2 @ 7:30PM: Festive Fireworks File Photo

Fabio Luisi, conductor

David Kim, violin

Tchaikovsky      Symphony No. 5

Tchaikovsky        Violin Concerto

Tchaikovsky        1812 Overture

THURSDAY, AUGUST 3 @ 7:30PM: Schubert’s “Great” Symphony

Isata-Kanneh-Mason-2021 © Robin Clewley-9101

Fabio Luisi, conductor

Isata Kanneh-Mason, piano

Mendelssohn      Piano Concerto No. 1

Schubert            Symphony No. 9 (“Great”)

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4 @ 7:30PM: Pink Martini and The Philadelphia Orchestra, Featuring China Forbes

Enrico Lopez-Yañez, conductor

Pink Martini

Pink Martini, the self-described “little orchestra,” joins The Philadelphia Orchestrafor a night of genre-crossing music from classical to jazz to vintage pop.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 5 @ 7:30PM: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert  

Justin Freer, conductor

Doyle    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ (complete with film)*

The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire™ in Concert, the fourth film in the series. The Philadelphia Orchestra will perform Patrick Doyle’s magical score, which won both the International Film Music Critics AWARD (IFMCA) and ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.

WIZARDING WORLD and all related trademarks, characters, names, and indicia are © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Publishing Rights © JKR. (s23)

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9 @ 7:30PM: Beethoven’s Seventh

Roderick Cox

Roderick Cox, conductor

Philippe Tondre, oboe

Mozart                 Oboe Concerto

Beethoven         Symphony No. 7

THURSDAY, AUGUST 10 @ 7:30PM: An Evening with Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald © Allison Michael Orenstein

Andy Einhorn, conductor

Audra McDonald, vocalist

Emmy-, Grammy-, and six-time Tony Award-winning icon Audra McDonald will join The Philadelphia Orchestra for a night of Broadway favorites featuring Rodgers and Hammerstein, George Gershwin, and Stephen Sondheim, among others.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 11 @ 7:30PM: Rachmaninoff at 150

Photo: Dave Bigler

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

Bruce Liu, piano

Rachmaninoff    Piano Concerto No. 2

Rachmaninoff    Symphony No. 3

SATURDAY, AUGUST 12 @ 7:30PM: Blessed Earth

CROSSING (c)Kevin Vondrak

Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor

The Crossing

Donald Nally, artistic director

J.L. Adams         Vespers of the Blessed Earth*

Stravinsky         The Rite of Spring

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16 @ 7:30PM: The Four Seasons with Gil Shaham 

Gil Shaham, photographed at Central Park, 11/10/2020 by Chris Lee

Gil Shaham, leader and violin

Saint-Georges    Violin Concerto No. 9 in G Major, Op. 8. *

Vivaldi              The Four Seasons*

THURSDAY, AUGUST 17 @ 7:30PM: Yo-Yo Ma Plays Dvořák

Yo Yo Ma. Photo: Jason Bell

Xian Zhang, conductor

Yo-Yo Ma, cello

Prokofiev             Symphony No. 5

Dvořák             Cello Concerto

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18 @ 7:30PM: Earth: An HD Odyssey

The Mississippi Delta from Outer Space

Bates                Philharmonia Fantastique*

Various             Earth: An HD Odyssey*

Featuring John Adams’ Short Ride in a Fast Machine and Richard Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra

SATURDAY, AUGUST 19 @ 7:30PM: Jurassic Park in Concert

Constantine Kitsopoulos, conductor

Williams               Jurassic Park (complete with film)*

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of Jurassic Park with the film projected in HD and The Philadelphia Orchestra performing John Williams’ iconic score live to picture.

Jurassic Park is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, Inc. Licensed by Universal Studios. All rights reserved.

*indicates SPAC premiere

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